Roses are out
Not technically, of course, but realistically. Ohio State's comeback win at Iowa (man, are the Buckeyes in the Hawkeyes' heads or what?) means MSU can win next week to finish 11-1 and still almost certainly wind up at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1.
If Wisconsin does stay ahead of Ohio State in the rankings, it's a three-way tie and the Badgers go to Pasadena, could MSU beat Ohio State for an at-large bid? Did I really just ask that question? Zero percent.
Speaking of not peaking, MSU is not playing its best football of the season. The defense was pretty bad for most of today, and the offense kept stalling in Purdue territory. But you have to give the Spartans credit for fighting through it all, especially Kirk Cousins. His left shoulder and left ankle are "very, very tender," he said after the game, revealing that the ankle has been bothering him for a few weeks -- which helps explain some of the "back foot" issue. But he made big plays, as did Mark Dell, as did Greg Jones, as did Denicos Allen, as did Kevin Pickelman, as did Eric Gordon, as did B.J. Cunningham, as did Chris L. Rucker and Chris Norman.
The bottom line is, next week is for a championship. And the Spartans have six Big Ten championships in their history. The destination has to be a secondary issue at this point, because it probably won't be what the Spartans or you want.